Retailers are making a big push to promote early holiday shopping. Kmart began TV advertising last week, and Toys-R-US just announced modified store policies. And Walmart started promoting its holiday layaway plan:
“This time it’s free,” the ad boasts. This refers to the fact that last year Walmart charged a $5 fee to initiate a layaway, but they reimbursed that fee to shoppers at the end by giving them a $5 gift card.
What Walmart doesn’t tout is another inconspicuous change.
Yep. They have introduced a $10 cancellation fee which is imposed if the consumer cancels the purchase. It is also triggered if all the payments are not made or if the item is not picked up by December 13.
No one is disputing Walmart’s right to add a cancellation fee, particularly if they have taken the shopper’s goods off the selling floor for three months. What is interesting, however, is that their marketing folks have taken a net negative change to the layaway plan (the $10 cancellation fee) and essentially no change to their start fee (since it was rebated), and turned it into a positive advertising campaign.